The Night Before: My version of carbo-loading was sweet potato gnocchi and some homemade chocolate chip cookies. I had tons of lists for what to wear, bring, pack, etc. Hubby and I attempted to go to bed at 10, but that failed, because I was tossing and turning all night long (well, until 4:30). Thankfully I had slept really well the nights prior.
Food/Fuel: Breakfast was my standard long run meal: oatmeal with honey and cinnamon. During the race I drank a combination of water and nuun, and ate two bags of honey stinger chews and 1/2 of a disgusting, sickeningly sweet Gu gel. I honestly tried to get it all down, but I couldn't. In retrospect, I wish I had brought along a few more calories - total consumed for the race was slightly less than 400.
|Just Before Mile 20.|
What I Wore: This was such a dilemma. The forecast was supposed to be for a 45 degree start, but it ended up being 32 - one of the coldest mornings we have had so far this year. I stick with shorts, a singlet and a windproof jacket. At the last minute hubby gave me his woolen beanie. So glad I had it - I only took it off at mile 14. The jacket stayed on until about mile 23.
Pre-Race: The course was less than an hour from home, so I drove up the morning of. Packet pick-up was from 6-7 am, and the race started at 7:30. Traffic/parking was backed up and slow at the start, so I ended up being late. But pick-up was fast and easy, and the race ended up starting 20 minutes late anyway, a blessing for me since it gave me a chance to stand in line for the bathroom too.
The Course: Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon is a double loop course, which I didn't mind as much as I thought I might. There were rolling hills throughout, but nothing too tough in my opinion. The course itself was beautiful, and full of historical landmarks, monuments and memorials. It was also littered with cannon, one of which was the "gunshot" for the start of the race - very cool. It was basically a trail race, without the trail, as 95% of the roads were paved.
Aid Stations/Support: The first aid station was 4 miles in, and I was pretty glad I carried my own handheld water bottle. They were situated about every 2-3 miles I would say, and I filled up my bottle a couple of times. They did offer some fruit and Powerade as well, but I didn't take either. Supporters were almost non-existant outside of the aid stations. Shuttles were taking family/friends around to say hello, but they were few and far between. I did see Kelsey at one point which was great, and I saw hubby at mile 14 and mile 20.
Miles 1-20: Pretty good run! I slowed down throughout this race, which is obviously NOT what you want to do in a marathon. But until about 20 miles I felt good and was on track to finish well below 4:30. I decided to run with music for the first time outside, and I'm so glad I did. It was perfect and really kept me going.
Miles 20-26.2: This was the real race for me. I struggled so much, trying hard to maintain 11 minute miles and eventually 12's. I made bargains with myself - run for a song, then walk for a minute. I did make sure that my walk breaks were never more than a minute long, but they were pretty frequent. Most people around me were doing the same, and we played leapfrog back and forth.
Post-Race: The setup after the race was great. As soon as I crossed the finish line I got my medal, as well as a framed bib because it was my first marathon, which was a really nice touch. There was a band, plenty of food (pizza/cookies/drinks) for the racers and a big open field to enjoy. I grabbed some pizza and water and walked around for a while...very, very slowly. I wanted to get out of there quickly though, so we only stayed for 10-15 minutes total after the race. Hubby and I went for lunch at a pizza buffet so I could get my money's worth of food! $6 for as much pizza as I wanted? Amazing.
|The First of Many!|
What I Learned: I think I made some pretty standard first-time mistakes. I definitely started out a little too fast, even though I told myself to run slowly. I would also bring along some more fuel next time. However - nothing was bad. I didn't make the time goal I set for myself, but nothing broke, I didn't have to run off into the bushes to pee, I didn't collapse....I call that a success. Next time, I want to focus on running hills a little more, and maybe a few more 20+ mile runs.
All in all, this was one of the best experiences of my life. I'm so proud to say I have run a marathon! Thank you to everyone who gave me kind words of encouragement and congratulations yesterday, it means so much to me.
Oh! And to everyone who asked how I can sit cross-legged in this picture and be ok? I have no idea. oddly enough, that's one of the most comfortable ways to sit right now. And yes, everything hurts today. Like- shoulders, back neck, legs, everything. Totally worth it.
And the numbers, for anyone who wants them: My gun time is officially 4:37:20, and my Garmin time is 4:37:01 for 26.35. (I started it a little before the start line, plus...tangents? What's that?) Still no chip time, but in such a small race we are only dealing with a few seconds - 20 at most.
So...be honest. Does this recap make you want to run a marathon (or another one, for those who already have) or never, even attempt it?
I already want to run another one! Redemption, baby! In fact...I already have one on the cards. AND I may or may not have two free race entries to give away, so a couple of you can join me! Any guesses which one it is? I'll fill you in this week, I promise.
What is your dream race? Anywhere, no qualifications.
There are so many, but most of all I would love to run the Istanbul Marathon. It crosses from Europe to Asia - how cool is that?